Public-Private Partnerships Are The Key To Rural Broadband Deployment
Charlie Boring, general manager of BTC Fiber in Pikeville, Tennessee, was a recent guest on the podcast “Lead Tennessee Radio.” The show is produced by the Tennessee Broadband Association.
In the podcast interview with TNBA Executive Director Levoy Knowles, Boring discussed the importance of grant funding and partnerships for rural broadband expansion.
“You have to have partnerships for outer-lying areas,” Boring said. “It’s just not feasible to build out there and get a return on your money without these public-private partnerships.”
BTC Fiber serves about 10,000 customers in Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties. BTC recently received a $1.5 million Broadband Accessibility Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to extend broadband into the Pikeville area. The total grant construction project will cost more than $4 million.
Boring said they have deployed fiber through about 20% of their service area, but that connects some 50% of their customer base. Much of the remaining service area is sparsely populated, which Boring said is why partnerships are needed.
With the current pandemic forcing students to complete assignments through virtual classrooms, Boring said he wants to make sure no student gets left behind. BTC has set up several free Wi-Fi hot spots in the communities it serves.
“We are working with the school systems to make sure all students have access to broadband for their schoolwork,” he said.
The “Lead Tennessee Radio” podcast is an opportunity to discuss issues facing Tennessee with state leaders and lawmakers. Past episodes feature House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge; House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland; Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin; and many more.
“The cooperative and independent telecommunications companies who comprise the TNBA are working hard to ensure that everyone in rural Tennessee has access to this life-changing technology,” said Levoy Knowles, TNBA executive director and host of the show. “This podcast is a great opportunity to have conversations with state and industry leaders who are on the front lines working for a connected Tennessee.”
“Lead Tennessee Radio” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play, as well as tennesseebroadband.com.